Do you ever feel like a ship on a rough sea? How about a kite on a windy day? How about a house of cards? Maybe you have a sense that you are a house built on shifting sands? Sometimes we feel so out of control. Sometimes we make plans to see them fail. Sometimes we dream and not see progress. There are so many times we find ourselves looking for answers and stability and peace and joy and bliss and comfort and …all that good stuff. This might be obvious, but answers to all that stuff are found in Jesus, literally. Let me see if I can explain.
I heard a great teaching this weekend about this verse:
John 12:25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. (KJV)
Here it is in the Amplified:
John 12:25 Anyone who loves his life loses it, but anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. [Whoever has no love for, no concern for, no regard for his life here on earth, but despises it, preserves his life forever and ever.] (AMP)
That maybe doesn’t give you any comfort at all, right? You might ask “what if I like my life, what if stuff is good? Does that mean I have to suffer to have life? What is going on here, despise, really!?!?!” Don’t fret. This is actually an amazing verse of comfort and has the answers to when stuff is or is not so good. Let me show you.
The problem is in the translation. There are actually two words translated as “life” in English. They don’t mean the same thing. Here is the ESV as a reference:
John 12:25 Whoever loves his life(psyche) loses it, and whoever hates his life(psyche) in this world will keep it for eternal life(zoe).
The first word translated life twice is psyche in Greek. This word is the soul or “our breathing.” In the Septuagint (Greek old Testament) this is the word that is “our breathing” after God breaths life into us.
Gen 2:7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life(zoe); and man became a living soul(psyche).
The other mention of “life” or “eternal life” is the Greek word zoe. It is the life force of God like in the Genesis reference it is the “breath of life.” Still confused? OK here are a few illustrations:
Imagine a great ocean. On the surface of this ocean are waves and salt spray and swells. The surface of the ocean is affected by the environment. In a storm it is rough. On a calm day it is smooth as glass. Below the surface the ocean is constant, the surface conditions have no affect on the temperature, currents, etc. In this illustration the surface is psyche and the deep is zoe.
Imagine a beautiful sunset. You take a picture of that sunset, frame the picture and hang it on your wall. You can remember the beauty and majesty of that sunset if you where there. If you weren’t there, it is just a picture. Also if you turn out the lights in your house, a match will produce more light in the room than the picture. Actually the picture will produce no light at all. In this illustration the picture is psyche and the sunset itself is zoe. Just like Jesus Himself is the light of the world (and so are we with Him in us) but an academic understanding outside of a relationship with Jesus is a picture and produces no light.
Have you ever experienced zoe life? It is a timeless moment when God becomes real and all the rest fades away. Maybe you have experienced zoe when hearing a song or in worship. Maybe you have a moment when you take a walk in His creation and observe the beauty and magnitude of it all. Maybe you have no idea what I am talking about. This zoe life is what Jesus gives us when we believe in Him, eternal life. It is what we receive when we are born again. It is a timeless opportunity to live from His life. It is the living water that He discusses with the woman at the well. We feed on the bread of eternal life in Christ. He is our bread of life. It is God Himself, His life force. It is the place of knowing Him:
John 17:3 And this is eternal life: [it means] to know (to perceive, recognize, become acquainted with, and understand) You, the only true and real God, and [likewise] to know Him, Jesus [as the] Christ (the Anointed One, the Messiah), Whom You have sent. (AMP)
In this lesson I heard the teacher gives a testimony about when he was in college and had come home between semesters. He was worried about the future and all sorts of life (psyche) stuff. His dad was with him in their back yard and he said to his son “I see a knot in your soul, can I pray for you?” The son was surprised but knew his dad as a very spiritual man with a strong relationship with Jesus so he agreed to prayer. His dad put his hand on the son’s chest and back and prayed silently. The son (the teacher giving the testimony) said he felt a knot rise up in his throat as his dad prayed. He began to cry and in a moment all his worries left him. He said this was the first time he experienced eternal life (zoe). It was the peace that Jesus promises.
I believe we can all live in constant awareness of zoe life. I believe we may not always “feel” filled with zoe but we know it is there inside us. We know that the fullness of God is in us. We are in constant communion with Him. He is the source of eternal life. His presence manifest is the peace of Jesus, the zoe moment. I believe we can experience a zoe moment at any moment. Sometimes it results from external inputs like prayer in this teacher’s testimony. Sometimes it comes from the inside out when we spend time alone with God. Sometimes it is both when we are in worship or other corporate settings. In all cases I guarantee there is one common denominator…the goodness of God!
When we meditate on the goodness of God we will always be aware of His eternal zoe. When we believe the enemy or are a product of wrong teaching and we don’t see how good God is, we can’t find eternal zoe. God is good. God is love. In that truth we find Him. In that truth we know we are loved. In that truth we find our eternal life. The proof is on the cross. The proof is God becomes a man and dies for us. The proof is Jesus lives a completely surrendered, submitted, free-of-self life, filled with the Holy Spirit and choses to take the sin of the world on the cross. If you are having trouble seeing the goodness of God look to the cross. It isn’t a place of remorse but of wonder. Jesus on the cross doesn’t highlight our sin or our dysfunction. It glorifies the Son. It amplifies the goodness of God. It is His megaphone of “I LOVE YOU!”
This verse in John is not about suffering or sacrifice but it is all about priorities. In the Lance Literal translation I would say it this way.
“It is time to get your priorities right. Your source of life is not what you see and experience. Your life is not your stuff. Your life is not your circumstance. Put all that aside and find His life. Seek His eternal life. Find your ZOE MOMENT! and you will experience true life” (LLT)